A Safety Problem
“The situation’s not going to get better until we deal with the root cause,” Bethany Christian Services’ Chris Palusky says.
“What I mean by the root cause is that … in Central America, primarily in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, gangs rule the land. And until we’re able to work with those governments, so the U.S. government should work with those governments to provide a safer environment for their citizens… those kids will continue to come to our border.”
Palusky says measures taken such as police training, ensuring investments, and holding governments accountable are vital steps to seeing a safer environment in Central America that will no longer force children to flee.
Gangs have often threatened children and their families or even killed relatives to force children to join them. Girls have also been taken and trafficked by gang members.
Children, as a result, have been fleeing to the United States unaccompanied.
KFox14 reported that from October 2016 to June 2017, 2,054 unaccompanied minors crossed the border in the El Paso sector. From October 2017 to June 2018, 2,384 more unaccompanied children crossed in the same area.
Bethany has been working with unaccompanied children for decades. Further, they’ve started working with kids who were taken from their parents at the border under the “zero tolerance” policy.
Palusky explains that children – unaccompanied and separated, are referred by the government. From there, Bethany’s case managers help to locate children’s parents and family members, whether they are in detention centers or in their home nation.
During the process of locating kids’ families, children stay with foster families who, Palusky says, are working out of faith to serve ‘the least of these’.
“We look at it as a salt and light really. These people are the hands and feet of Christ and they’re living out their faith. So, we’re excited that we have people of faith partnering with Bethany so that people can see this is what Christianity’s about. This is what people of faith are about. This is what followers of Jesus are about.”
Recently, Bethany helped to reunite more than 90 percent of the children in their program with their families.
However, the need for faithful foster families continues.
“Although people are being reunified right now with their parents and there’s no more separation of those children, we still have a huge refugee crisis coming across our border,” Palusky says.
“So, the unaccompanied refugee minors that were coming before will continue to come and those numbers aren’t slowing down. So, we need foster homes for those kids – those unaccompanied refugee minors that are coming across the border and they need a place to stay.”
Connect with Bethany to foster unaccompanied refugee minors. Your help will show the love of a believer and give a safe home to a child as they wait to be reunited with their family.
And finally, pray for the violence in Central America to end. Pray for the safety of children, their families, and peace in their countries.